1 Mar 2010
Dion Giolito has made a splash over the past few years with bold yet balanced smokes marketed with a flare for the mysterious and sometimes conspiratorial. Unlike his earlier Illusione and Cruzado lines, the Epernay blend takes its inspiration from a more traditional source: the Epernay region of France known around the world for the Champagne it produces.
Epernay debuted in 2008 as the ECCJ 15th limited release (in honor of the 15th anniversary of the European Cigar Cult Journal). It was eventually rolled out in 2009 as a full line with four sizes. For this review I tasted the panatela-sized “Le Elegance” (5.75 x 40).
According to Illusione’s website, this Nicaraguan puro features “a combination of criollo and corojo tobaccos…[and] is finished with a superior-grade cafe rosado coverleaf.” It’s well constructed with a Cuban-style triple cap and framed by a white and gold band.
Pre-light, the panatela draws with sweet cedar notes. I find a mild, creamy smoke after lighting with a single wooden match.
Despite its distinctly mild to medium body, the cigar has an intense mix of apple, roast nuts, and cedar. In the final third, a very subtle hint of cedar spiciness emerges along with delicate floral notes.
Construction is excellent, which is particularly impressive considering the small ring gauge. The ash holds for over half an inch and the draw provides no resistance.
It is said that the Epernay is blended to be paired with champagne, but I’ll admit I had my doubts. With a healthy skepticism, I lit my last one up paired with a fine Cava (which, for my money, is as good as a champagne three times the price), and I found that the crisp, lively bubbly was an excellent accompaniment.
I’ve written before in appreciation of fine mild smokes, and this cigar hits all the characteristics of such a cigar. Delicate and subtle, Le Elegance is tasty and without a bit of the bitterness that tarnishes so many otherwise excellent mild cigars.
Ultimately, at $7.70, this Epernay lives up to its name: elegant. Because of that, the Illusione Epernay Le Elegance earns the rating of four and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys